Broadway Shows are a huge attraction in NYC for locals and tourists alike. We know people who plan trips just to come see shows. Whether you’re into them or not it’s worth doing at least once, but with so many options it’s sometimes hard to decide what you should see. We’re making our way through the list, but here are our favorites so far.
ULTIMATE GUIDE TO BROADWAY MUSICALS AND SHOWS IN NYC (+ OFF-BROADWAY AND OFF-OFF BROADWAY)
Date Updated: Jun 24, 2018 Originally Created: March 8, 2018
7 BROADWAY SHOWS YOU CAN’T MISS
1. The Book of Mormon, Eugene O’Neill Theatre
It’s an older one, but this has been our favorite overall musical. The music is catchy, the songs are hilarious, and the story kept us engaged all the way through. It has won 9 Tony Awards since 2011, and I can’t believe it’s taken us until now to watch it!
2. Hamilton, Richard Rodgers Theatre
We finally got to see it and can absolutely see why this show has so much hype. It’s brilliantly written, entertaining, educational (how much do you actually know about Alexander Hamilton), and the production is great. With that said, it’s hard for us to say that it’s the best musical we’ve ever seen. We heard from all our friends that this show met all the hype and couldn’t be overhyped, we’d have to disagree. We really enjoyed the show, but we wouldn’t go out of the way to watch it again. The music and lyrics were brilliant but nothing in particular was catchy (except King George’s song).
If you still haven’t seen it, here are a few ways to score tickets since they are still so hard to come by:
- The Hamilton app makes it so easy to enter the lottery and you can set daily reminders. This also means a ton of people enter. We’ve entered every day for over 6 months with no luck. Rumor has it that if you have a NYC address, you get preferential treatment, but we don’t know for sure.
- You can also line up at the Richard Rodgers Theatre early in the morning and wait for cancellations. Most people start lining up at 11 AM, but the people we talked to at the front of the line had been there since 6 AM on a Wednesday.
3. Jersey Boys, New World Stages
We love Jersey Boys! It’s the only musical we’ve watched more than once. It was our third time watching it (first time on Broadway), but I have to admit that the talent on Broadway is unparalleled. The actor who plays Frankie Valli actually sounded like him. The songs are nicely woven into the story, and we’re always impressed by what they’re able to do using such a simple set.
Note: It helps to be familiar with the songs. We noticed a younger couple who didn’t seem to enjoy it as much. They had no idea that it was based off of a true story.
4. Chicago, Ambassador Theatre
If you’re looking for a classic Broadway musical, this one definitely needs to make your list. We forgot how many recognizable songs came from Chicago. The dancing, ensemble, talent are all remarkable. If you’ve seen the movie, the Broadway version has such a different feel. It’s way more comedic. You should absolutely watch the Broadway version!
photo: Jeremy Daniel
5. Come from Away, Gerald Schoenfeld Theatre
We first heard about Come from Away on a previous trip to NYC when we met some folks from Newfoundland who were really excited about it. For those of you guys who don’t know the story, it’s about the 38 planes that were rerouted to the small town of Gander, Newfoundland following the attacks of 9/11. The musical does an amazing job of capturing so many different emotions from that day and masterfully weaved in difficult topics like racism. It had us laughing, crying, singing along, and certainly helped restore some faith in humanity.
photo: Matthew Murphy
Following the story of the movie, School of Rock was absolutely amazing. The kids are incredibly talented and really shine. We kept looking at each other in disbelief that these kids were actually playing and singing.
7. Waitress, Brooks Atkinson Theatre
Waitress is one of the shows who bring in temporary guests to star in the show. Sara Bareilles and Katherine McPhee have been here since we moved to NYC, as well as Jason Mraz. It was a cute story and they do a good job of making it feel immersive. You can even buy mason jar pies to eat during the show. We loved the music during the show, but didn’t find any of them memorable after.
Chris Fitzgerald absolutely steals the show. His first song completely blew away the audience.
photo: Jeremy Daniel
BONUS. The Play That Goes Wrong
The Play That Goes Wrong is quite popular and won a Laurence Olivier Award for Best New Comedy in 2015. We saw this during Broadway Week. There was a lot of slapstick humor and as the name implies, a lot goes wrong. We did all feel like it was a bit too one-note and the jokes got a bit tiring by the second half of the play.
The next three that we’re planning to watch are: Harry Potter, Lion King, and Aladdin.
11 TOP RATED AND MOST POPULAR BROADWAY SHOWS
- Harry Potter and the Cursed Child (Two Parts)
- The Lion King
- The Phantom of the Opera
- The Book of Mormon
- Mean Girls
- Come From Away
11 NEW SHOWS
- Pretty Woman The Musical (opening Aug 2018)
- Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, Two Parts (opened Apr 2018)
- Mean Girls (opened Apr 2018)
- Frozen (opened Mar 2018)
- Angels in America (opened Mar 2018)
- Escape to Margaritaville (opened Mar 2018)
- SpongeBob SquarePants (opened Dec 2017)
- The Band’s Visit (opened Nov 2017)
- Anastasia (opened April 2017)
- Come from Away (opened Mar 2017)
- Dear Evan Hansen (opened Dec 2016)
BEST BROADWAY SHOWS FOR KIDS
- The Lion King
- Frozen: The Broadway Musical
- Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, Two Parts
- SpongeBob SquarePants
- School of Rock
- Come from Away
- Mean Girls (teens and up)
- Dear Evan Hansen (teens and up)
TIPS FOR WATCHING BROADWAY SHOWS ON BROADWAY AND OFF BROADWAY
- If you’re in NYC during Broadway Week (mid-January to early Feb). The tickets are 2-for-1 so you can check off some of the shows that you’ve been meaning to watch.
- Don’t limit yourself to just Broadway. There are a lot of amazing shows Off-Broadway as well.
- Did you know the difference between Broadway, Off-Broadway, and Off-Off-Broadway are the number of seats in the theater? It’s not necessarily by location. Broadway has over 500 seats, Off-Broadway has over 100, and Off-Off-Broadway is under 100.
- Be sure to print out your tickets, some box offices will not print them for you. My brother came to a show during his visit and thought his online ticket would work only to find out he had to find a printer. Fortunately, he was able to hop into a nearby hotel to get them printed.
- If you’re picking up your tickets at the box office, we recommend going earlier in the day. When it gets close to showtime, the whole theater is much more crowded.
- Plan your bathroom breaks! First off, be aware if there is an intermission, and even if there is, the lines get REALLY backed up.
- There isn’t a whole lot of space between the seats. If you’ve been out all day shopping or have a lot with you, make plans to drop is off somewhere before heading to the show.
- Most theaters will sell food and beverages but they come at a price. We picked up some Twizzlers and water for $15, which didn’t surprise me too much, but when the couple next to us ordered 2 cups of wine and it came to a total of $50, all of our jaws dropped.
- If you’re just looking for a good deal, check out TKTS for same day tickets up to 50% off. Their main location in Times Square is hard to miss, but it also has long lines. Check out their other locations for shorter lines.
We can’t wait to see many more during our year in NYC and will update this post as we do.
Have you seen any of these? What did you think? And which one are you hoping to see next?
WHAT TO DO NEARBY
- Times Square (0.2 mi / 4 min walk, map)
- SPYSCAPE (0.3 mi / 7 min walk, map)
- Rockefeller Center (0.4 mi / 8 min walk, map)
- MoMa (0.4 mi / 9 min walk, map)
- St Patrick’s Cathedral (0.4 / 9 min walk, map)
- Central Park (0.4 min / 10 min walk, map)
WHERE TO EAT
WHERE TO STAY
- Casablanca Hotel was the perfect getaway from all the hustle and bustle of Times Square. It’s surprisingly quiet for its location, and we often came back to hang out in their clubhouse when we felt sensory overload. Most importantly, it was only a 5-10 minute walk to all the Broadway shows we watched!
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“Discovery consists not of seeking new lands but in seeing with new eyes” – M. Proust
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